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Three Badger runners dash to state

October 27, 2010 | 10:42 AM
Kenosha — While the Badger cross country squads didn't advance to team state during Saturday's Racine Horlick Sectional at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, three individuals earned a trip to state for the first time.

Freshman Alex Swarthout (fourth overall, 15:30), sophomore Karina Reeves (seventh, 15:52) and junior Dan Sepe (eighth, 16:42) will head to Wisconsin Rapids Saturday for the WIAA state meet.

The boys squad ended up fourth with 109 points, and the girls sprinted to third with 97. The top two teams at the meet qualified for state. The girls team was only 26 points behind Waterford for the second spot.

Boys coach Mike Butscher commended his runners, who all posted personal best times.

"All seven guys ran their best times, which we've never had at a sectional before," he said. "They ran a brilliant race and did the best they could. The kids really stepped it up, and I was very proud. We knew we were running against some pretty good teams. Our No. 3 runner, Corey Nevin, was hurt today and he would've helped us finish higher. We never talked about it, and everyone just embraced the challenge. We're young, so we should be right in the mix next year."

Butscher added that his boys had a great season.

"It was neat that the guys worked so hard all year and saved their best times for last," he said. "It was a reflection of how solid a season it was."

As for Sepe, he will try his luck at his first state tournament. The junior is "super-psyched."

"It was a little muddy out there in some spots, but it was perfect weather," he said. "I was pretty pumped up out there. I have one more year, so it's even better knowing I'll have another chance."

Thanks to the Badgerland Running Company and solid coaching, the Badger cross country program is on the rise. Sepe said a lot of people work hard to make the team successful.

"We have an awesome coach," he said. "We will be good next year because a lot of guys are young. Butscher is a great coach. I worked out with Badgerland in the winter. It definitely got me running in the summer. It is nice and structured and has helped the program."

Sepe added he wants to break his personal best of 16:42 at state.

"I treat it as an average meet," he said. "I don't want to get too nervous about it."

Swarthout, Reeves rose to occasion

Both Swarthout and Reeves had to step up with top runners Aaryn Edge battling bronchitis and Tristan Sproul nursing a stress fracture.

For Swarthout, finishing as the top Badger runner was nothing new. She took first overall at the Southern Lakes meet Oct. 16. She said certain workouts coach Stefani Gustafson gave her during the season helped her improve. She is a little surprised by her turnaround from the team's fourth runner to the top.

"I am very excited to go to state, but I'm also nervous because there are going to be a lot of really talented girls there," Swarthout said. "I didn't think it was possible for me to reach state in the beginning of the season because I wasn't posting very good times."

On Saturday, the dream of qualifying for state really pushed the freshman.

"I just kept thinking about state and how bad I wanted to go and that helped me pick up my pace," she said. "I was not pleased with the fourth-place finish, but I'm the type of person who's never pleased with my times."

Reeves also reached a personal best. She said she was extra pumped up for the meet.

"I had a lot of adrenaline in the beginning," Reeves said. "Then it became all nerves. And I pray to God every meet, and he helps me through. I got a second wind at the two-mile mark, and that helped me a lot."

With talented runners down, Reeves knew she needed to take over. She had Tristan on her mind.

"It was a downer that Tristan and Aaryn were out or hurt," Reeves said. "They definitely push me. I'm always in eyesight of them, and they push me very hard. I had to push myself instead. It was a struggle, but I did it."

Reeves is happy to reach state.

"I did not know I was going to go," she said. "When they called my name, I was pumped."

She hopes to finish in the 15s for her time at state. Reeves said Gustafson does a great job.

"She pushes us, and she is an awesome coach," Reeves said of Gustafson. "And we do our part when we're out there running."

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